Like any aging yuppie, I am already past the phase of clubbing and crazy nights out. I noticed that I have become boring, prone to becoming a creature of habit, has started to prefer “staying in” rather than “staying out” and has no ounce of the dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) virus. While people around me are posting pictures of (almost) naked bodies splayed on on far-away beaches, my Instagram feed is that of food I cook, my newly-born niece (her nickname is PennyLane) and #TBT of past travels.
My idea of fun is now playing with the cats and binge watching whatever catches my fancy on (internet) TV.
My current obsession is the Korean variety show 2Days1Night – while the show has been around (more than 7 years), I only discovered it recently after a really boring night looking for an interesting Korean show in Dramacool. What brought me first to the show is my weird obsession with Cha Tae Hyun, whom I have been crushing on since “My Sassy Girl”.
After watching a single episode and almost dying of laughter, I decided to trace it back to the start of Season 3 or the very first episode when the current cast joined the show.
From what I read, 2D1N used to be a very formidable show on its heyday until recently when ratings started dropping and the old cast left, with the exception of Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Jong-Min. The latest season (season 3) served as a fresh start and in fact, is slowly but surely recovering its lost mojo.
2D1N highlights what happens when you bring crazy guys together. What I love about the show is how the cast complimented each other well: Kim Jun Ho (Mr. Sly) is the crazy, cunning older brother who is not above cheating and conning his younger brothers just to win the game; Kim Joo Hyuk is the dashing debonair oldest brother who just can’t seem to get the girls; Defconn is the burly, imposing middle brother; Cha Tae Hyun is of course the popular ladies man while Kim Jong Min is the other middle brother who is a bit naive and a “little-out-there” while Jung Joon Young is the weird baby of the family who does things his way.
The glowing proof of just how funny this show is — I managed to influence the husband to watch the show religiously. He has become a 2Days1Night fan that he is often the first one to remind me of our 2D1N habit as soon as I get home from work. His favorite, of course, is Mr. Sly, with Kim Joo Hyuk coming a close second.
He loved the show so much that he is now fond of watching Korean variety shows on Channel M. One show we also love is “Grandpas over Flowers” because we find the old men really adorable.
So blame the wacky guys of 2D1N for my lack of time and even the lack of sleep. Nothing beats flushing all the day’s stress and negativity away by laughing your heart out (tears and snot included!)
Like fashion, shoes and cosmetics, the love of Korean drama is something that is solely the women and the fashionable gay men’s territory. Korean dramas usually follow a certain formula — just enough of syrupy goodness to make every woman fall in love, a good mix of comedy to lighten the mood and gut-wrenching scenes that can tug your heart strings. Of course, there’s the adorable lead actor and his equally adorable leading woman, PLUS the super loveable third party (usually a guy) who everybody roots for but just can’t seem to get the girl.
And then, I discovered Bad Guys.
Bad Guys is a korean action-thriller drama featuring a tough, morally-ambiguous cop who decided to form a group composed of criminals or “bad guys” to solve some of Seoul’s most gruesome crimes. The group, headed by detective Oh Gu-Tak served as the de-facto leader looking after three criminals: Lee Jung-moon, boyish-looking and awfully quiet guy with doctorate degree in math and philosophy, the youngest member of Mensa, said to be diagnosed as a psychopath and is considered the deadliest serial killer in Seoul; Park Woong-cheol,a mob boss with a killer fist who stormed and punched his way on top of the criminal underground food chain and Jung Tae-soo, a hired hit man with an impressive number of kills. Ambitious police office Yoo Mi-young completes the group as handler of the three guys.
The drama follows a police procedural format where Oh Gu-Tak is called to solve the crimes riddling Seoul–a rampaging sniper killing people at random, kidnapping of a top mob boss, a roving serial killer — with the aid of the bad guys. Their methods might not be common or what’s considered right — but they get things done. The casting is great — as all actors seemed the right fit for their role. This even if there are times when Lee Jung-moon seemed to be channeling “L” (Death Note), that all he had to do is reach for a lollipop and adopt a very awkward posture.
The action scenes and the gore is top class. Bloods splatter, knives are pulled, faces are bruised due to solid punches and the usual baseball bat to the head. In a group where everyone seemed to be hiding something, it was the Police Chief Nam Goo-hyun who serves as conscience and moral compass. They get things done but along the way, they discover secrets, wracked a few kills and lose loved-ones.
This drama is so good that I caught the husband binge-watching online for episodes. The drama aired from October to December 2014 in South Korea but is just being shown now through Channel M on cable. Whatever the medium maybe, you can expect the Hubs–who is a bit averse to cheesy Korean dramas–to drop everything and watch. We are already on episode 7 and episodes are getting better and better. My favorite episodes so far include the pervy serial killer and the one where the guys took down a whole building of goons who were all employed by a creepy old lady dealing in illegal organ trade.
The camera work is also unique–heavy and dark and bursting with closed-up visuals. It’s no surprise that the Hubs is immediately hooked and is now going through bouts of worry because the series end by episode 11. Since this is a one-off thing, I will have to look again for an equally heavy, equally macho Korean drama series that can serve as another venue for bonding between me and the reluctant K-drama lover.
I was one of the few noonass trapped in a sea of shrieking, screaming, near-epileptic girls during the one-night concert of Korean band, CNBlue last Saturday, June 15 at the Araneta Coliseum.
I couldn’t blame them — I almost passed out due to the sheer talent of this band — well, make that good looks, charisma and talent. Like I told my good friend F, these guys–especially Jung Yong-hwa (lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist) must have been in the front when God decided to shower his people with talent. Hearing them shred their instruments to pieces, you wouldn’t think you are actually listening to guys with ages ranging from 21 to 25. They are that good.
I arrived at the venue a quarter before 7PM and a full hour before the concert began. At first, I was worried seeing there were only a few people in front of the Araneta Coliseum grounds. I was expecting the same level of chaos I experienced during the concert of another well-known Korean boy group, but it was a lot different last Saturday: there was no long lines of people inching to go inside the venue, no mass of people milling around or harried-looking people who seemed to be in line in the last three hours. Apparently, the organizers allowed people to go inside earlier, hence there was no choke point in any of the entrances. Apparently, the lack of chaos should be credited to the organizers who seemed to have avoided a lot of the aggravation usually associated with concerts concerning gorgeous Korean boys mixed with the pheromones of their fandom.
I got the second to the cheapest tickets, the most which my measly budget can afford. While I would have loved to be front row and center and bask on the charms of Yong-hwa, however, as a married noona — bills and the responsibilities of married life usually come ahead of fandom. Nonetheless, I am elated to have the chance to hear the boys live, especially Yong-hwa whom I have been fan after his turn as Kang Shin Woo in “He’s Beautiful.” Even if I was so high up, it was clear from the beginning that the concert would be one hell of a good time.
The boys opened the concert greeting the enthusiastic Filipino audience in Tagalog. In fact, the boys went beyond the tried-and-tested “Mabuhay”, “Mahal ko Kayo” and “Salamat Po.” They were speaking in the sentences, winning the hearts of the audience in the process. Aside from Yong-hwa, Lee Jong-hyun, Kang Min-hyuk and Lee Jung-shin peppered their set with tagalog words and expressions which the audience really appreciated. (The 17-ish girl beside me wheezed, “He’s sooooooo kyoooooot! Haylaaaaaaaaab you Yong-hwa!!!)
Araneta Coliseum was only 80% full but you wouldn’t notice that it’s not a sold-out concert on the way the guys played and their fans responded. Every song was met with varying levels and octaves of shrieks and undying declaration of love and fandom. The boys, meanwhile, played as if it was the Grammy’s and they were up for Band of the Year. Believe me, they were that great. Jong-hyun, the vocalist and lead guitarist exuded a mysterious charisma that only intensified when he is doing wonders with the guitar. Him and Yong-hwa played flawlessly, you wouldn’t think they were a band that debuted only four short years ago. Ming-hyuk, the drummer, displayed promise and an endearing personality that was made obvious on how the girls cheered for him. Honestly, he seemed to have the most number of fans (or maybe it’s a toss up with Yong-hwa) due to the deafening shrieks that filled the stadium each time he was shown on the screen. Jung-shin, meanwhile, was the cool one who seemed to be wrapped in his own world as he played the bass. And finally, Yong-hwa…I may be biased but how can I describe this guy without sounding like a noona with a favorite brother? He dances, sings really well, plays the rhythm really good, provides fan service like no other…what else? He was just that good. In fact, his sheer talent managed to sway a lot of my beloved “K-Popper girls” who used to ship other members.
NOTE: Band member photos are not my property. Sources include Yahoo OMG PH, Oh-KPop and CNBlue Manila.
What further enhanced the experience was the good lighting effects and lasers which filled Araneta as the boys played. The introduction video as well as the supplementing video presentations was also nicely-done and added to the experience.
In summary, it was truly a magnificent concert experience. It was so worth it–braving Manila’s weird weather and a bout with slight fever just to hear these guys play. In fact, I told F that CNBlue will definitely go places, with the talent and dedication that they have in their craft. These guys are more than a pre-packaged, bubblegum pop sensation with good looks, with sheer determination, these guys has the makings of a long-term pop rock group that can rule the airwaves for years to come.
Rooftop Prince is good!!! Watch it. Watch it. Waaaaaaaaaaaatch it!!!
I wish I could summarize Rooftop Prince with just the above statements, and quite honestly, the above will actually suffice. This 2012 drama, starring Mickey Yoochun/Park Yoochun of idol boyband JYJ (formerly TVXQ) and Han Ji-min, plus with awesome support from Lee Min-ho (NOT that Lee Min-ho), Jung Suk-won and Choi Woo-shik. Lee Tae-sung and Jeong Yu-mi meanwhile serves as second leads and fitting antagonists for the series.
Rooftop Prince tells the story of Lee Gak (Park), a Jeoson Dynasty prince whose wife, the Crown Princess, was found dead floating in the palace reflecting pool. Overcome with grief, he rounded three of his kingdom’s bravest and brightest men to find the truth about the death of the princess and avenge it. These men are Song Man-bo, a brilliant prodigy (Lee), brilliant warrior Wu Song-yul (Jung) and ladies man-slash-palace eunuch Do Chi-san (Choi). During a chase, the men was attempting to jump a ravine when they are mysteriously transported to the rooftop apartment of Park ha (Han) located in modern Seoul.
Park Ha has recently relocated to Seoul after living in San Francisco for a long time as an adopted child. Two years before she relocated to Seoul, Park ha worked in a restaurant where cousins Yong Tae-yong and Yong Tae-mu had a round of drinks before agreeing to go sailing in San Francisco bay the next day. The next day, Tae-mu killed Tae-yong following a spat on board the yacht. Tae-mu returned to Seoul and pretended not to have seen Tae-yong while in San Francisco.
The four men had no choice but to stick with Park Ha after landing in her rooftop — hungry and more importantly afraid of the trappings of the modern Seoul, they decided to stick with her even if she shouts often and made them her workers for her many rackets. In one of those many part-time jobs, Lee Gak, who looks like Yong Tae-yong, crosses path with the powerful family of Yong Tae-mu. He also meets Hong Se-na, who is Park Ha’s step sister, and who looks a lot like the Crown Princess.
Lee Gak is convinced that he needs to marry Hong Se-na in order to solve the murder of the Crown Princess and at the same time, find a way for him and his men to go back to the Sejong era.
I won’t post a lot of the details of the drama because it will be such a shame if you will not see the drama on your own. Here’s the thing I love most about Korean dramas: their capacity to tickle your fancy, hook yo endlessly with funny situations and laugh out loud moments, only then to drive you tears with weepy moments as the drama nears its close. The Sejong Men’s fish-out-of-water situations in modern Seoul are just too hilarious to pass up. My sister, my mom and I nearly fell off our seats just laughing at them.
The two leads are adorable. Mickey Yoochun proves that he is an idol that knows how to act well. He is alternately adorable and annoying as the Prince Lee Gak and as the heir to the vast Home Shopping Network empire Yong Tae-yong. Han Ji-min meanwhile simply shines in her role as Park Ha and Hong Bu-yong, the Crown Princess’ sister who loved Lee Gak from afar and who made the ultimate sacrifice for the prince. Her scenes during Bu-yong’s final moments are just heart-wrenching.
If the two leads are adorable, then the anti-heroes are simply hateful, wrenched humans that I am tempted to throw a chair at the television each time these two appear. Which, in short, means that they are effective actors who manage to incite the feeling of the viewers with their utter evilness. Lee Tae-sung and Jeong Yu-mi are simply brilliant. I wanted to drown Hong Se-na each time I see her on screen, she’s just so bitchy and petty and so deep in her jealousy that the denouement of her character in the end is well-deserved. Lee Tae-sung as Tae-mu is just so psychotic and evil that he gives a lot of anti-heroes are run for their money. The love story of Se-na and Tae-mu has the Joker-Harley Quinn vibe that you expect them to eventually hack each other to pieces just for their sheer evilness.
How do I even begin with the three guys who played Lee Gak’s minions? They’re just too funny for words. The Queen and I loved the warrior, Yong-sul. He’s just so good-looking (yes, we prefer him over the Prince) and he can kick ass. Producers should cast them on their next action movie. He has the body and the looks for a City Hunter-type drama. Man-bo and Chi-san also shines in their roles.
What we love about these three is that they’re not the usual “side kicks” relegated to doing “so-so” tasks in a k-drama. They each have their back stories and they shine during their moments on screen.
Got so enamored with the drama too much that I ended up finishing it in two days (two separate Saturdays), choosing to sit for 12 hours straight in our living room couch. My sister and I never once stood up–well, except for urgent bathroom breaks and to get water from the kitchen. It is that good.
The only downside of me finishing this drama in two days is that I don’t have anything to watch anymore after a harrowing day at work. Any suggestions?
Faced with the prospect of going back to work, I was tinkering with this laptop last night, looking for a new korean drama that I can watch. After all, it’s been a long time following the last K-drama I watched. Let me see: I never got to finish Boys Over Flowers, I also started watching “City Hunter” in the beginning because I was impressed with the espionage stuff at the Blue House but pretty much drifted away when the drama became too focused on Lee Min Ho and the girl’s love story….and thaaat’s pretty much it.
So, I wanted to watch anything fun and light and without too much baggage. While searching over the internet and with various Korean entertainment websites, I noticed this new drama called “Full House Take 2”, described as a loose sequel to the acclaimed KDrama, Full House, starring Rain and Song Hye-kyo.
Full House 2 is a romantic comedy about Take One, an idol group consists of Lee Tae Ik and Wong Kang Hwi and their stylist Jang Man Ok (Man Ok means “full house” in Korean) and the succeeding love triangle between the three characters.
In spite the success of Take One, the leader Tae Ik, with the temperament of Dao MingSi, Domyoji Tsukasa and Gu Jun Pyo rolled into one plus the complexion of Edward Cullen, is a perfectionist, sullen, stingy jerk who has the reputation of always firing the group stylist on account of his many allergies. Based from the current episodes, it seems that he is also beholden to his talent agency, the pathetically-named UEnterLJ, and its president. In fact, most of his salary as an idol goes to the payment of the charming French Chateau built by his parents and currently owned by the agency chairman, Lee Joon. This is also the reason why he doesn’t earn anything from his endorsements, his album sales and basically all the earnings usually received by a top idol.
The other member of the group is the adorable and kind-hearted Won Kang Hwi, the exact opposite of Lee Tae Ik. Kang Hwi is goofy, a fashion-savant and happy-go-lucky. He loves shopping and usually sneaks out of the resort (the French chateau) in order to visit his favorite shops. It is during one of his shopping expeditions where he met the female lead, Jang Man Ok (also known as Jang Michelle), a stylish girl who also dabbles as an taekwondo master.
Due to a series of unfortunate and exasperating events, Take One will end up hiring Jang Man Ok, with Kang Hwi being the sweet and lovable member always looking out for her and Tae Ik, the idol from hell who always made sure to make life miserable for Man Ok.
..and so the story unfolds. (I am still currently on the eight episode)
Here is a trailer released to the Japanese audience (FHT2 is a Korean, Japanese and Chinese co-production)
Lee Tae Ik (played byu Noh Min Woo) looks like a strong lead but he can be pretty annoying. As mentioned, he seems to be chanelling the male leads from all three Hana Yori Dango series at all times, while looking like a distant cousin of the Cullens with his ashen complexion. And ugh, what’s with the hair? He currently sports a curly blond hair that looks totally unmanly when he is not doing idol duties. Mercifully, Take One’s hair dresser usually straightens his hair during appearances. I suspect that there will be a good back story why he is such a jerk at all times. Maybe because he used to be one of the chaebols (heir) and was driven to poverty. In spite his idol status, he is penniless. In fact, he usually relies on samples and sponsorships for his skin care and wardrobe needs.
Jang Man Ok (played by Hwang Jung Eum) is a stylish girl that was raised by her grand father who is a taekwondo master. She was originally named Jang Michelle but when the old man took her in, he changed her name to Man Ok, meaning Full House (there’s your title alert!!!). She was raised to be athletic and a certified taekwondo master. In spite this, she is also a fashionable girl who has a knack for styling and putting clothes together. When her grandfather went on a three month trip and left the dojo to her, she took it as an opportunity to sell her clothes through her online business, Manokine. She is spunky, brave and speaks her mind. Save for her utterly ridiculous hair that makes her look like an ahjumma, Man Ok is cute and sassy. Maybe the reason why the two members of Take One will go after her.
Won Kang Hwi (played by Park Ki Woong) is the other member of Take One, usually relegated to the rapping parts and obviously the inferior vocalist compared to Tae Ik. But what he lacks in voice, he more than makes up in charm and fashion sensibilities. He is very fashion forward and has a kind heart. He also loves shopping. Kang Hwi is instrumental in bringing Man Ok in as stylist for Take One. He is also the more lovable character and I find myself rooting for him most of the times. Unfortunately, he seemed to be sick. Though, I really wish it’s not cancer of the brain or any form of cancer, which is the default sickness in all Korean dramas.
What’s up with second leads and them being lovable characters? Case in point? All Hanazawa Ruis from three versions, Kang Shin Woo (from You’re Beautiful) and Daniel Henney from Kim Sam Soon. All the time, I always end up rooting for the guy who’ll have his heart trampled on countless times. I am still hung up on the sad ending for Shin Woo and I think this will be the same case with Kang Hwi.
I am still on the first eight episodes, but I think I might stick around to finish this series. Of course, there are holes in the story line and acting, at times, can be over-the-top…but know what? It’s funny and entertaining. Two things I think that are pretty much important in a Korean romcom. There are characters in the story that are seriously annoying, like Man Ok’s frenemy who also happens to be Take One’s fan from the seventh pit of hell. But they add spice to the story.
I am curious why the chateau ended up in the hands of the talent agency chairman and the intricacies of Tae Ik’s contract to the company. What also drove his family to bankruptcy and where are his parents (are they dead)? Hopefully, Take One will also improve their performance, since they are obviously lip synching most of the time. Man, I’ve seen Korean idols perform and they are polished to the T. If, according to parallel universe, Take One is the hottest group in Korea, then I think they should also exhibit the same kind of tight performances usually seen from groups like Big Bang (ahem!), Super Junior and even 2PM.
The series are only 30 minutes long per episode so the story aren’t dragging, which I really appreciate. Hopefully, I’ll catch new episodes next weekend. I have a feeling that Tae Ik will be a lot kinder to Man Ok.
Descent into madness
It was a cold, drizzling evening when the cab I was riding pulled in front of SM Mall of Asia Concert Venue. It was close to 6PM and the concert was said to start at 8PM. This early, the front of the Arena looked like the venue for a new social revolution. People were everywhere. The crowd, a good mixture of the young ones and the forever young (REPRESENT!!!) was listless and the energy was high. Once in a while, a high-pitched scream will pierce the air, prompting for mass screaming and hysteria. Girls were rushing, others were running straight to the stairs, I meanwhile was grinning ear to ear.
So, this is how it feels to attend a KPOP Concert.
Yes, I am also a “KPOP concert newbie” — The Big Bang Alive Tour was the perfect time to pop the KPOP Concert cherry. The fan girls, with their light sticks and blinking hairbands shaped like crowns (symbol of Big Bang fans–the “VIPs”) were just too cute to behold. While lining up to go inside the fourth floor venue entrance, the unmistakable strains of the first song, coupled with the unmistakable screams of the crowd emanated from inside the venue. Pandemonium and chaos ensued.
Have your ever seen people running from the lower floors going up while screaming and clearly busting with excitement? It was both a scary and overwhelming sight. That happened last Wednesday night. (I will reserve my rants later so as not to taint this post).
Inside the venue was pure madness. Girls were screaming–even howling like as if they are in the midst of the Spanish inquisition. Three days after the concert, I still have faint buzzing sounds in my ear. It was truly a fun, exciting evening where the screams of the crowd can drown the boys’ singing.
Looking down from our perch from the Upper Box, the venue can be surreal sometimes. The light of a thousand light sticks looked like a thousand diamonds punched into the deep, black sky. The fact that these light sticks move in unison, in time to the beat of Big Bang’s music was simply too awesome for words. The Filipino VIPs loved and adored their boys and they clearly have no problem showing it. They knew the lyrics to every song, danced and swayed to the beat of the fast ones and knew the correct answer to every one of Big Bang’s questions. They were every musician’s dream audience and I was simply too awed to be one of them.
A few minutes after the concert, a shy Korean girl approached me and asked if I want to exchange Big Bang fans. I got the fans from a promo by Jeju Air (Big Bang is its endorser). Apparently, she loves GDragon and wanted to exchange her TOP fan to my GD. After I told her that I also like GD, her face fell but when I told her that she can have my fan. The smile on her face is simply priceless.
Finding the One. As clear as the SUN.
Before, whenever I was asked who I like among the boys, I really have no clear answer. When you are still starting to know their music and starting to know their names, it has a way of leaving you slightly clueless on their various state of hotness. I do know that I am amazed with how unique and talented GD is; the mysterious air of TOP and of course, the R&B swagger of Taeyang.
The concert laid this dilemma to rest.
Don’t get me wrong. TOP, GD, Daesung and Seungri are all hot, talented and amazing — but Taeyang has a way of attracting the audience. Must be the way he moves or the way he belts the high notes. Or must be the abs. My mind was pretty much made up after he, in one swift move, tore the white tank top he was wearing to reveal rock hard abs. In one swift move, Taeyang pretty much got my vote and formally inducted me to the Big Bang fandom.
Here’s a sampling of pure Taeyang awesomeness for your viewing pleasure:
Seriously, those abs should be registered as a deadly weapon.
I truly enjoyed the concert, more than I thought I would. It’s something that I am glad my friend, F shared with me.
I just wish the management started admitting to the venue early. That way, there wouldn’t be confusion on the seat numbers (we had to call the venue security due to two concert goer who refused to vacate OUR seats); we would see the beginning of the concert (We didn’t catch the opening) since we are still being frisked outside and so that the many people massing outside, waiting for the cue to go in wouldn’t have to be subjected to the rains.
The concert also provided me with the blessed opportunity to meet four more people who are simply too amazing and interesting for words. It was a fun basking on the talent and musicality of a group like Big Bang and sharing it with them. Thanks, F, for the introductions. And to A — we really do make a great pair evicting people from their seats 🙂
I have a confession to make.
For sometime now, I have been very unfaithful….
It all started with ubiquitous pictures in Seoul, the urgent need to find copies of the “Alive” CD which my good friend F asked me to buy for her, along with the constant need to find them on Seoul’s many advertisements.
What I like most about Big Bang is that they look effortlessly sexy — the tats, the weird and wonderful fashion sense, the hairstyle, the devil-may-care attitude. In a sea of cookie-cutter boy bands with their clean cut sensibilities, these guys stand out for their masculine sensibilities. Hell, to call these guys a boy band is an affront to how cool they are – they should be called a “man band” or a R&B group cos they are far from being “boys”.
Obviously, my favorite member is T.O.P. and G-Dragon, with Sol/Taeyang getting a bit wee close (loved Sol’s vocal range) — I am sure Daesung and Seungri are also cool and sexy guys, but man — T.O.P. and G-Dragon looked hella dangerous!
Thing is–these guys looked and felt real to me. They do not have the “goody-two-shoes” image which I truly, truly abhor in boy bands. These guys have been accused of doing weed, having casual one night stands and canoodling with Japanese models, but its VIPs remained loyal to the group. If you ask me, people support a particular group because of their talent and their personalities, and not because they are future saints.
To further cement this new found fascination, I have managed to purchase tickets to this:
Truth is, I am already excited for their Manila concert that I am now contemplating on buying a Big Bang shirt to wear to the concert. You see, I am determined to dance to their music especially my current favorite, on heavy rotation from morning till night:
So yeah, I maybe turning into a Big Bang fan. Who knows, I may decide to dye my hair blue one of these days.